FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jackson, MS-Attorney General Jim Hood warns Mississippians, particularly those who are parents, to be aware of the dangers associated with free file sharing programs, primarily those used to download music.
?If you are not careful when you download programs such as eDonkey, Limewire,Frostwire, BearShare, Kazaa and Morpheus, you can end up sharing your entire hard drive with other users,? said Attorney General Jim Hood.
In one recent instance, investigators with the Attorney General?s Office found where one Mississippi family was unknowingly sharing tax forms, social security numbers, checking account information, personal photos and videos with other users of Frostwire, a popular website commonly used to download music. Programs such as Frostwire use specialized software to allow two or more computers in an associated network to communicate with one another through the Internet for the purpose of sharing information between users. In this case, the family mistakenly chose to share their entire hard drive rather than isolate the program to a specific shared folder. That mistake gave other users of the same file sharing network open access to the family?s personal records. As a result of the Attorney General?s notice, the family immediately deleted this program from their home computer. They were further instructed to run credit checks and to change their bank information to better protect themselves.
?When I heard about this it bothered me greatly as a parent,? said Attorney General Hood. ?So many parents are not even aware that their children may have downloaded programs from the Internet like that and, as a result, opened the family?s personal information up to perfect strangers.?
To find out if you are at risk, check your computer for programs that can share music, video or other files. There are hundreds but the most popular are: eDonkey, Shareaza, WinMX, BitTorrent, Limewire, Morpheus, eMule,Ares, BearShare and Kazaa. Most of these free programs will download an icon to the desktop of the computer. In the case of Limewire.com, you can check your desktop for a Lime icon. Another similar program, Bearshare.com, puts a Bear icon on your desktop. To best protect your files, you should consider deleting the program. Also, it is also a good idea to keep your virus protection software up to date to alert you to regular threats.
“Threats are always changing and evolving,” said Attorney General Jim Hood. “To best protect yourself, you need to continually update your virus protection software and educate your children on the dangers of downloading material without your knowledge or permission. Also, arm yourself with knowledge. It is illegal to download music or videos without properly paying copyright fees.”